The cars : Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe two-door

Chris Cowin remembers another of those base models which rarely attract collectors, but often accounted for a big chunk of sales in period.

The Austin 1100 Deluxe two-door saloon was the cheapest version of what’s now often referred to as ADO16 during its final Mk3 phase of 1971-74, and undercut the cheapest Austin Allegro by 10% during 1973/74 when both were available.


Austin 1100 Deluxe: Base model brilliance?

The Austin 1100 Mk3 two-door Deluxe saloon (foreground)
The two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe saloon (foreground)

In the Austin/Morris 1100/1300 Mk3 range introduced in September 1971 the base model was, a little confusingly, called Deluxe as had been the case with the base 1100/1300 Mk2 cars, – and would be the case with the base Austin Allegro and Morris Marina.

However, in all those examples the Deluxe lacked equipment compared to the Super Deluxe which is what adverts usually featured. In later years, it seems British Leyland (or the customers) tired of such marketing cynicism, for the base Princess was initially called simply Princess 1800 and, much later, the base Austin Montego was simply the Montego 1.3.

It should be added that on the 1100/1300 range the Deluxe/Super Deluxe differentiation was clear in price lists and brochures. But the cars were never badged as such, so many owners, especially if they had bought their car secondhand, were unaware of this distinction.

Only as an Austin

In the mainstream 1100/1300 Mk3 range in the UK there was only one such Deluxe car – a two-door 1100. In Britain, only an Austin-badged car was offered, but Morris-badged versions were built for export.

No Morris-badged 1100/1300 Mk3 cars were sold in the UK except for the Morris 1300 Mk3 Traveller, due to the arrival of the Morris Marina range in April 1971, so if you wanted one of those base beauties, it had to be an Austin.

Incidentally, the reason the Morris 1300 Mk3 Traveller was allowed to exist was the absence of a Morris Marina estate in the initial Marina range. The Traveller and Countryman versions of ADO16 received the bigger 1300 engine and Super Deluxe specification in both the Mk2 and Mk3 ranges, although there was very briefly an 1100 Mk2 alternative during 1967/68, mostly built for export.

There were six models in the Mk3 Austin 1100-1300 range. In the UK only the Estate offered the alternative of Morris badging. The 1100 two-door Deluxe is left foreground.
There were six models in the Austin 1100/1300 Mk3 range. In the UK, only the Estate offered the alternative of Morris badging. The two-door 1100 Deluxe is left foreground.

One should remember that Austin models were still distributed through a separate dealer network from Morris in the UK. Although a line-up of Morris 1100/1300 Mk3 cars would have crowded the new Marina in Morris showrooms, that was not an issue in the Austin dealer network – of course, in practice, many bigger dealers held both franchises.

A grilling on the grille

The two-door 1100 Mk3 Deluxe was distinguished (if that’s the word) by one horizontal bar in the new matt black grille, while Super Deluxe models including the four-door 1100 Super Deluxe and the 1300 Countryman had three bars bunched together and a 1300 grille badge on cars equipped with that engine.

This slightly arcane point is often disputed, with many believing the number of grille bars denoted engine size, but no. The number of bars denoted trim level, and that four-door Austin 1100 Super Deluxe therefore had three grille bars, but obviously no 1300 badge.

The Austin 1100 Mk3 Super Deluxe four-door together with the Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe two-door. Three bars on the grille of the blue four-door signify Super Deluxe trim. If it was a 1300 it would have a '1300' grille badge as well
The Austin 1100 Mk3 Super Deluxe four-door together with the Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe two-door. Three bars on the grille of the blue four-door signify Super Deluxe trim – if it was a 1300, it would have a 1300 grille badge as well

Meanwhile, the sporting Austin and Morris 1300 GTs had their own specific grille design.

Limited Luxe

From its rubber flooring to its cheaper seat trim, the two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe was something of a cost-cutting special. It was deprived of the new wood-effect full-width dashboard fitted to all other Mk3 cars, and also their safety padded steering wheel – so, best not to crash.

Instead, owners had to content themselves with the ergonomically-challenged central speedometer carried over from the previous base model cars, now without faux-wood trim, together with the old two-spoke steering wheel as pictured. Many owners found this central speedometer, although evoking fond Mini memories, was obscured by the driver’s left hand on the steering wheel.

The strip speedometer that featured on the original Austin 1100 and on Mk2 Super Deluxe cars was now a thing of the past, on the British market at least.

The Austin 1100 Mk3 two-door Deluxe made do with the central binnacle and old-style wheel pictured top right. Only Super Deluxe models received the new wood-effect dash and padded wheel pictured below
The two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe made do with the central binnacle and old-style wheel pictured top right. Only Super Deluxe models received the new wood-effect dash and padded wheel pictured below

The introduction of mandatory steering wheel locks in 1971 had resulted in the ignition key moving to the steering column, so the rather spartan binnacle that housed the speedometer now included a blank space where the ignition used to be.

The central binnacle seen on these cars wasn’t a feature of the original 1962 Morris 1100 or the Mk1 Austin 1100 (both of which were rather better served) but instead was a cost-cutting item. It was first seen on the budget-priced Mk1 Austin 1100 two-door sent to the USA during 1967, before later appearing on the Mk2 Deluxe saloons. Some believe it was initially intended for the aborted 1100 van.

Also lacking from the specification, compared to the Super Deluxe models, were: a temperature gauge, stainless finishers to door frames, opening rear-quarter windows (so it was stuffy in the back) and chrome trim on the bootlid, Fitted carpets (replaced with rubber mats) and armrests front and rear were also omitted.

You could have reclining seats, a heated rear window and radial tyres – but only by selecting them as options – though that applied to the Super Deluxe also. Radial tyres were definitely worth the extra money, as they transformed the already good roadholding of these cars.

But Deluxe buyers were not allowed to opt for automatic transmission although you could get that on the 1100 Super Deluxe. Seatbelts and number plates were mandatory but extra cost, as was usual in that era on all cars.

Asset strippers

In addition to the above deprivations specific to the Mk3 Deluxe, all of the Mk3 cars had been stripped of some items owners of the preceding Mk2 models – including the Mk2 Deluxe – might have expected to find. These included basic items such as indicator repeaters on the wings – an overt sign that British Leyland was striving to reduce production costs. One of the few tangible Mk3 improvements which the Deluxe shared was face-level air nozzles at each end of the dashboard.

Some say a switch to thinner steel in the construction of the ADO16 coincided with the introduction of the Mk3 cars, though that is something the company was understandably coy about.

The police were keen on the Austin 1100 Mk3 two-door Deluxe. Some may have covertly been 1300 models really ...
The police were keen on the two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe. Some may have covertly been 1300 models really

These entry-level Mk3 cars appealed to buyers on a budget, and also to fleet buyers, with many seeing service as police panda cars. Some of those police cars were secretly using the 1300 engine, to catch out unwary criminals.

Penny-pinching

So, how much did you save by going for the cheapest model in the 1100/1300 range? Well, at launch in late 1971, the two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe cost £805 including tax compared to £876 for the four-door 1100 Super Deluxe, or £871 for the two-door 1300 Super Deluxe. So, about 70 quid – call it about £850 in today’s money.

This was a time of high inflation so prices kept creeping upwards, but when the new Austin Allegro range was introduced in May 1973 the base Austin 1100 retained a significant price advantage.

In October 1973 the base two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe was listed at £892 including tax, which was a useful £107 cheaper than the equivalent Austin Allegro 1100 Deluxe two-door at £999. This underlined how the Allegro had been priced at a premium over its predecessor. This was despite that base Allegro being itself a rather frugal conveyance, with door armrests replaced by cheap pull-handles and a very basic specification.

The Austin 1100 Mk3 two-door Deluxe was very much a price-leader and £100 (or 10%) cheaper than the cheapest Allegro when that arrived. The 'British People's Car' advertising echoes Volkswagen.
The two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe was very much a price-leader and £100 (or 10%) cheaper than the cheapest Allegro when that arrived. The ‘British People’s Car’ advertising echoes Volkswagen

The 1100 Deluxe overseas

As mentioned above, these base models appeared in some export markets with both Austin and Morris branding, partly because the new Morris Marina range was launched later for export.

This included Norway and also Denmark, where the long tradition of naming the Morris version of the ADO16 1100 and 1300 as  Morris Marina resulted in this model being called the Morris Marina 1100 when sold as a Morris in Denmark (below). This was less confusing than it might seem because old and new Marinas only briefly over-lapped.

Denmark was almost certainly the leading export market for the two-door 1100 Mk3 Deluxe. The very popular ADO16 range accounted for almost 10% of total Danish car sales at the peak, and the Danes favoured budget models as a result of the country’s car tax system.

The Danes received the Morris Marina 1100 (right) which, apart from badge and left-hand drive, was identical to the Austin 1100 Mk3 two-door Deluxe.
The Danes received the Morris Marina 1100 (right) which, apart from badge and left-hand drive, was identical to the two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe

Another country with local naming was the Netherlands, where they still spoke of the Austin Glider 1100, though brochures appear to have dropped the Glider name for the Mk3.

But the rather modest interpretation of the ADO16 concept that the two-door 1100 Mk3 Deluxe represented wasn’t really a model for global export.

New Zealand loved the 1100/1300 and assembled a lot of Mk3 cars, but they appear to have all been Super Deluxe four-doors, the same applying to most other CKD (Completely Knocked Down kit) customers around the world like Malaysia.

Australia and South Africa were building their own rather different interpretations of ADO16 by 1971, as were Italy’s Innocenti and Spain’s Authi. The Spanish cars sold rather better.

In the USA, a very similar Austin 1100 had been marketed during 1967/68 as discussed above, intended to match the Volkswagen Beetle on price during a recession. But the better-equipped 1275cc Austin America later arrived in both the USA (in 1968) and Canada. 1971 was its final year, to be replaced by the Austin Marina in 1972.

So, the two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe was primarily a car for the UK and northern Europe. Dealers in the Republic of Ireland offered them, shadowing the UK market offer quite closely in those days, while cars supplied to EEC markets would have been assembled at Seneffe in Belgium which had tariff advantages. That didn’t include Denmark which, like the UK and Ireland, only joined the EEC in January 1973.

In West Germany, the two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe was British Leyland’s answer to the base Volkswagen Beetle 1200, but VW lost little sleep as British Leyland had only a very weak presence in its home territory. Tiny Denmark bought more of these cars than the huge West German market.

It popped up in France, but that was a country where the ADO16 range overall had always come a distant second to the popular Mini in the company’s sales rankings, in stark contrast to Britain.

West Germany imported the Austin 1100 Mk3 two-door Deluxe which was priced and positioned as a VW Beetle 1200 rival.
West Germany imported the two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe which was priced and positioned as a VW Beetle 1200 rival

The twilight years 

The Mk3 period coincided with the 1100/1300 losing its place at the top of Britain’s best-seller charts, not least due to the arrival of the Morris Marina in April 1971 and then the Austin Allegro in May 1973. UK sales of almost 60,000 1100/1300 cars in 1973 were half the 1971 figure. Production contracted accordingly, and was eventually confined just to Cowley where it continued through 1974, with CKD kits for export still being despatched during 1975.

Heir to the base. The Austin Allegro 1100 two-door Deluxe took over from the Austin 1100 Mk3 two-door Deluxe. But they overlapped for around a year.
Heir to the base. The two-door Austin Allegro 1100 Deluxe took over from the two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe, but they overlapped for around a year

However, the booming UK economy of 1972 and 1973 resulted in more Mk3 cars being built than might otherwise have been the case. People were buying whatever they could get their hands on in a sellers’ market, and British Leyland was in no hurry to drop the Austin 1100/1300 range.

So although 59,198 UK registrations in 1973 was less than half what ADO16 had achieved at its peak, it still was a lot of cars and (rather soberingly) only a whisker below the best ever year for Allegro in Britain (1975 with 63,339 registered). Not bad for a ten year old design, only sold through Austin dealers, and sharing those showrooms for half of 1973 with its replacement. Those figures tell you as much about Allegro as they do about its predecessor.

Within the 1100/1300 range, the two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe was filling the role of ‘cheap wheels’ heading into 1974 while the new Austin Allegro remained a little aloof.

Oh, and despite all the pictures in this article giving that impression, orange wasn’t the only colour for the two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe!

Pick your 1100: the Austin 1100 Mk3 two-door Deluxe (left) lacked a lot of the content found in the Austin 1100 Mk3 four-door Super Deluxe (right). These were the only two 1100 models in the range. Note the simplified seat trim of the Deluxe in orange, naturally.
Pick your 1100: the two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe (left) lacked a lot of the content found in the four-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Super Deluxe (right). These were the only two 1100 models in the range. Note the simplified seat trim of the Deluxe in orange, naturally, together with rubber floor mats and solitary central dial.

Editor’s notes: Other versions of the ADO16 were built in Mk3 form which differed in detail from the equivalent Mk2 models. But for the Wolseley 1300 and the Vanden Plas Princess 1300 the changes didn’t warrant a change in model name and they were not marketed as Mk 3 cars unlike the Austin and Morris. The MG and Riley versions were already history by this point.

The two-door Austin 1100 Mk3 Deluxe might qualify as the most basic ADO16 variant ever built, but it’s worth noting Authi in Spain built a 998cc version, also called Deluxe, during 1974/75. However, that was a better-equipped four-door car. 

Chris Cowin

38 Comments

  1. I love these articles about unheralded base models, thanks.

    That German car has different hub caps and wheels to to the usual ones? Indeed it almost looks like a model!

  2. Well spotted – If that is the case (rather hard to tell) it’s likely to be because the Germans had strict rules about any part of the wheel protruding beyond the bodywork – the early 70s Mini 1275GT had to have wheel-arch extensions in West Germany for that reason.

    • Those hubcaps are the same as on any Mk3 – no brand logo stamped into them. That image scan looks a bit strange.
      The branding itself was a bit strange: For some time the 1300 was only sold as Austin, whilst the only Morris available was the 1100 de Luxe 2 door. And that was in fact the only 1100 on sale anyway. The Estate was never sold in Germany.
      On all ADO16s (except VP) there was one particular part fitted for the German market: A latch to keep the front seats from tilting.
      But the Mk2 1100 de Luxe 2 door got a special treatment here in Germany: The importer fitted a Rokee real wooeden dash kit to all of them. I remember some Mk3s also having this – possibly still a fit by the importer or dealer on sale of the car.

      • Great info. Thanks. I believe a headlamp alignment control for the driver was also mandatory in West Germany (but maybe that was later?). You are a proud ADO16 owner I believe : )

        • Headlamp adjustment was a different kettle of fish. On my father’s first Renault 4 the easy to adjust mechanism had to be removed, as anyone without a tool could have fettled with these.

          Later it became mandatory before it was a ECE norm. Therefore all Montego Estates sold after 1990 (no saloon available anymore) as well as every Rover 800 sold in Germany had the self leveling rear suspension fitted as standard. All Rover 200/400s (R8), 100s (Metro to you) and Mini from the time on had the electric adjustment fitted as standard.

          • PS: only loosely connected: I assume that German homologation engineers did not understand the implications of the hydraulically controlled beam adjustment of the Citroën SM as well as the fact that there is only a mechanical linkage between the SM’s steering wheel and the road wheels when the system has no pressure.

  3. Odd that such basic cars were called De Luxe then, which might mean a certain amount of luxury, when in reality this meant rock bottom if you bought an ADO16. Ford probably had a better idea with the Cortina: the base model didn’t even get a suffix and buyers knew they were getting the most parsimonious car in the range that until the eighties didn’t even have fabric seats.

    • BMC were one of the first (the first?) to go down that route when the Mk2 1100/1300 was introduced in 1967 with the base model called ‘Deluxe’ and the better equipped ‘Super Deluxe’. Before that most BMC cars were available as either a standard model or a ‘Deluxe’ model which was more expensive and better equipped …

      • In France, Citroën launched the Dyane in 1967, in ‘Luxe’ and ‘Confort’ trims.
        The ‘Luxe’ trim was the basic one, with plain cardboard door inner panels, plain steel steering wheel, and so on.
        Ten years before this, Citroën had released the ID19, in the same trims plus one : cheaper than the ‘Luxe’ was the ‘Normale’, which was not normal at all : available in black only, no chrome, less power than the other ID19s … No one bought them, of course.

  4. The 2 spoke padded steering wheel design lasted for a lot time, I remember my Mum’s 1984 Metro had almost the same style wheel with just a slightly thicker pad.

  5. I seem to recall the 1100 de luxe Mk2, 3 door had a piece of wood style Formica decorating the central instrument display.
    The plain black finish of the equivalent Mk3 being another economy. Good old BL, must have saved 50p a car doing that?

    • It was neither wood nor formica. It was a wood pattern transferred onto a stamped steel panel, the same as used in the Austin 1800. It was in good company: The expensive Facel Vega used the same technique…

      • Well, I guess if the material was good enough a Facel Vega, BL must have saved a pound per car!
        Alexander I remember it being fitted to the Austin 1800, fascia and door cappings if I recall correctly?

  6. Calling the base model De-Luxe made some sense, in the past when Standard were selling cars in the US, apparently there were cases where a prospective purchaser asked “If this is the Standard, can I see the De-Luxe”, Standard being the normal term in the US for the basic entry level model.

    When Chrysler introduced the Avenger in 1970 the base model was De-Luxe, the next step up was Super and the top of the range was the GT. They later introduced a poverty spec ‘fleet’ model below the De-Luxe, which had rubber mats rather than carpet…

    • Indeed – though for that reason they soon gave up trying to sell cars badged Standard in the USA – and the Standard 10 (which sold in quite big numbers) was re-badged Triumph 10 (sometimes abbreviated to TR10 – though that wasn’t official) 🙂

  7. I learnt to drive at the age of 12 on private roads in Grandfathers 1300, when I came to drive on the road it had been changed for a Chrysler Horizon 1.3 LS (1979 T Reg). The 1300 was a K reg but it was a Mk2, dark blue, with a light fawn colour interior and had the strip speedo (I guess it must have been one of the last). As you pointed out the Mk2 had side indicators that were not a common feature on cars in the early 70s. I remember us going to pick it up when new, from Swan Lane Garage in Coventry, which was to become a Renault Dealer when they had the dealer big cull in the early 70s.

  8. The FD Victor used Super for the basic model and SL( Super Luxury) for the two models in the range( the sporting VX 4/90 looked like a Victor, but was a much better equipped car and never used the Victor name). The 1600 Super was very basic motoring with a bench front seat and column mounted three speed transmission, and was underpowered for its size. Move up to the 2000 SL and you had individual front seats, floor mounted four speed transmission, some fake wood and the option of fitting the car with leather upholstery and a radio.

  9. Trim badges mainly got relatively simple and letter orientated in the late 70s and 80s – L, HL, HLS…base L, LX, GL…L, LS, GLS etc, but that’s got thrown out now, possibly because base models are so well equipped anyway.

    For example the current Ford Puma goes
    Titanium
    ST-Line a sportier version, so more a sister to the Titanium
    ST-Line X
    ST-Line Vignale
    ST which is the hard core sports version, and not to be confused with the “ST-Line”

    Similarly The Nissan Qashqai goes
    Visia, Acenta Premium, N-Connecta, Tekna, Tekna +. I wouldn’t have a clue that the Visia is the cheapest version!

    • In the case of the Qashqai….. Visia, Acenta Premium, N-Connecta, Tekna, Tekna+…… How do they come up with those names ? Do Nissan use a random word generator, or is it a committee who’ve all been taking something strange ?

      • Not as much fun as some of the Japanese only car model names. Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard. Daihatsu Naked. Nissan Homy Super long. Honda Life Dunk. Mitsubishi Active Urban Sandal. Suzuki Every joypop. Do I need to go on?

      • I actually was part of the team that did that job (among a lot of other odd things) at GM Europe in the 90s for Opel/Vauxhall cars – so blame us for Calibra (which had its roots in the USA), Frontera, Agila, Tigra, Meriva, Zafira, Sintra etc….. It was hugely complex because any name had to work well in a huge number of languages (over 20), had to be legally cleared in all markets, had to conform to the Opel insistence on ending in ‘A’, had to satisfy Vauxhall who liked to be different when they saw a chance, had to be cleared by Detroit and endless management committees – and after all that had to sound OK … : )

  10. @maestrowoof, no one wants cars with the bare minimum of equipment any more and for all Dacia developed a small cult following for the base model Sandero, it was withdrawn as it was too basic. Even superminis now have aircon, DAB radios, electric windows and infotainment systems.

  11. I always liked the Ford setup of trim levels in the 70s, your Capri could be a GT but then you could add X, L and R option packs on top.

    The modern labelling confuses me. Audis have numbers like 35, 40 and 45 to designate engine power rather than capacity, and gone are the days when a BMW 530 was a 5-series car with a 3.0 Litre engine. Volvos do something silly too, with designations like T3 or R5 which mean nothing to me.

  12. The top spec Avenger from launch in 1970 was the GL, not the GT (that came a little later). I had a ’73 GL and, being straight after my Mini 1000 Van, it seemed like a Rolls Royce! Cloth trim, reclining seats, heated rear window, powerful twin headlamps, vinyl roof. But no rev counter (just a blank circle). However, it was so quiet, I literally couldn’t tell if it had stalled at traffic lights. As for the gearchange, I could go through the box with my little finger. A hugely under-rated car.

  13. The Mk1 Cortina, depending on the body style, could be had in Standard, Deluxe, Super and GT. The Mk2 had base, Deluxe, Super, GT and 1600E. The Mk3 had Base, L, XL, GT and GXL before that was replaced by the 2000E. The Mk 4 was Base, L, GL, S, Ghia. I don’t think the Mk5/80 had an S trim.

    • @daveh. My company had a mix of MKIII Cortina 1.6 base & L estates. The final run out Cortina 80 base estate finally got fabric seats and contract type carpets… still no radio though!

      • My grandad had a mk3 L estate, even though he was a manager (the grand title of head of car radio repair), as Philips only bought basic models. If you were granted a company car below manager you got a base.

  14. I can’t believe deleting the side indicator repeaters on the base models wouldn’t have saved much money. The higher-spec cars got the Lucas L734 unit – used on everything, probably at a unit cost of pennies. It may even have cost extra to produce a run of wing pressings with no repeater hole, and a wiring loom without the connection points.

    I suspect the lack of repeaters was really to make sure the base cars *looked* basic – which, in turn, would emphasise the better spec of the higher models.

    • I wonder if it is actually a different wing pressing. I know Datsun had part pressed the hole for indicators, so they were punched out for models that needed it, and the part punched bits on cheaper models were soldered up.

  15. Ford used Popular for its base Fiesta and Escort models in the late seventies and early eighties, as a nod to the Popular entry level Ford from the 1950s. This was like the E trim on Vauxhalls, stripped out cars that sold only on price, and an incentive to spend a bit more and buy an L. You moved on to an L spec Fiesta or Mark 3 Escort, and you received a heated rear window, rear wash/wipe, cloth seats and a lighter, which was a huge leap forward from the Popular.

  16. At it’s launch, the Sierra base model had no wheel trims/hub caps. The top of the range Ghia had heavily marketed aerodynamic super flush hub caps, yet the fuel economy of, say, the 1.6 Base and a 1.6 Ghia was identical, so just hype!

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